Lago Maggiore / Verbania: Borromean Islands

The Borromean Islands are a group of three small islands located in the western part of Lago Maggiore, a large lake that straddles the border between Italy and Switzerland. The islands are named after the aristocratic Borromeo family, who owned them for several centuries and transformed them into beautiful gardens and palaces.

The first island, Isola Bella, is the largest and most famous of the three. It is dominated by the grand Baroque Palazzo Borromeo, which was built in the 17th century and contains several opulent rooms decorated with frescoes, tapestries, and works of art. The palace is surrounded by stunning gardens that are filled with rare and exotic plants, fountains, and sculptures. The highlight of the gardens is the "Staircase of the Giants", a grand staircase flanked by two colossal statues of ancient warriors.

The second island, Isola Madre, is smaller and more secluded. It is known for its picturesque gardens, which contain a variety of rare and exotic plants from around the world, including camellias, azaleas, and magnolias. The gardens also feature several impressive aviaries that house exotic birds from South America, Africa, and Australia.

The third island, Isola dei Pescatori, is the smallest and most rustic of the three. It is a traditional fishing village that has retained much of its original charm and character. The island is home to several quaint restaurants and cafes, as well as a small church and a handful of souvenir shops.

Overall, the Borromean Islands are a popular tourist destination and a must-see attraction for anyone visiting the Lago Maggiore area. They offer a unique glimpse into the history, art, and natural beauty of the region, and are a testament to the creativity and ingenuity of the Borromeo family.